|Dept. of Health and Human Services|
Secretary Alex Azar
The first rule affects taxpayer funding of insurance plans that cover elective abortions.
Back when the Affordable Care Act was being debated in Congress in 2010, a long train of peculiar circumstances led to a small band of prolife Democrats in the U.S. House being the final legislative obstacle. These prolife Democrats objected to provisions in the bill that would essentially lead to taxpayers funding abortions.
In order to placate these prolife Democrats, President Obama promised to sign a (phony) executive order that said taxpayer dollars would be kept separate from insurance plans that cover elective abortions. The prolife Democrats caved, and the Affordable Care Act became law and a source of never-ending political heartburn in America.
When the Obama Administration released the rules for how it was going to keep taxpayers dollars separate from abortion, it became clear that the Obama Administration would not follow the law or their own phony executive order, and even took steps to withhold information about insurance plans that cover abortion from the public.
In Michigan, we dealt with this "abortion surcharge" by passing our Abortion Insurance Opt Out Act in 2013. Sadly, taxpayers in Michigan are still paying for abortions in other states with the federal government and insurance companies acting as the middleman. In some states, no plans are available on health care exchanges that don't fund elective abortions.
In 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GOA) confirmed that taxpayers are subsidizing the purchase of abortion-covering plans on a massive scale
On November 7, the Trump Administration proposed a rule to finally require real separation between your tax dollars and abortion coverage. People who purchase insurance coverage of abortion would have to separately pay for it themselves, not with taxpayer subsidies.
While amending or repealing the Affordable Care Act would be preferable, a lack of prolife majorities in the current U.S. Senate and incoming U.S. House leaves this rule as the best available option.
The second rule affects the HHS Mandate.
Back in 2011, the Obama Administration issued regulations to the Affordable Care Act that required health plans to provide all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The regulations were called the "Dept. of Health and Human Services Contraceptive Mandate," or HHS Mandate for short.
Some of those methods (particularly emergency contraceptives) can potentially cause an early abortion. This led to cries of injustice against religious freedom from groups like Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, who would be coerced to buy services they were morally against. Failure to purchase potentially abortion-inducing drugs would have resulted in crippling fines meant to punish the groups for their views.
Both Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor had to take their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they won.
Last year, President Trump proposed rules that would protect religious freedom for all who do not want to pay for certain contraceptives or abortion through their health care plans. On Wednesday, November 7, these rules were finalized.
The first part provides an exemption from the HHS mandate to entities and individuals that object to in on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs. The second part provides a similar exemption for nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and individuals that have non-religious moral opposition to the services.
In other words, whether you are religiously-opposed or morally-opposed to the HHS Mandate, these rules essentially make the HHS Mandate optional.
These two rules changes show the prolife commitment of the Trump Administration to stop policies from pro-abortion administrations that break the letter or spirit of laws on the books.